Speaking Out: Rather Late Than Never

This is a post that I am battling to write. It has been brewing in the back of my mind for weeks. It has a close relative sitting in my drafts folder. It’s a post about not keeping silent, a post about speaking out.

Kristin from Wanderlust came up with a rather brilliant idea about having people speak out about domestic violence. And we should…but as I began to think about write…I found that I could not.

Perhaps, it is just the fact that this has been a rather rough and eventful month for me…another couple of milestones have occurred: We moved into our new house, my dad had his birthday (and now will always be older than my mom was). Or perhaps, it is something more insidious…a creeping shame or the thought that there are people who have experienced far worse than me…and that I am dishonouring their stories by speaking about mine.

I have experienced domestic violence at the hands of my mother, I was also raped by my first boyfriend. Neither of these experiences were my fault. Neither of these experiences are shameful. And yet, I have kept silent.

I wonder if my mother by speaking out, by seeking help, could have broken the cycle more completely earlier. But the thing is…no one encouraged her to speak. No one told her that there was no shame in what she experienced at the hands of her mother, and so in times of stress when she most needed support, she could not reach out.

The beauty of modern times of course is that it is possible to speak out anonymously…without having to deal with the consequences of coming out with the hard truths face to face. But speaking out from behind a keyboard is still valid.

Speaking out about one of your experiences does not invalidate any one else’s experience. It does not matter if you struggle to express what happened, or if you are not particularly eloquent. It does not matter if all you can do is remind another person that they still have a voice. It does not matter what you say…so long as you speak.

Because the thing is domestic violence thrives in silence. Speak out: you have  nothing to be ashamed of.

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2 thoughts on “Speaking Out: Rather Late Than Never

  1. Your post hits home for me. I’m not a victim of domestic abuse, as you know, but I am a victim of other forms.

    I’ve always wanted to speak out, but, in honestly, have never had the balls. Each time, I try to, or cogitate the process of how to, my defenses rile up more so than any other time. Re-living what I went through seems to be easier than actually telling people.

    My shame lies in a different place, in the place of other people connected. My old friends will know who I’m talking about. Those friends who are still friends with the abusers and who, still to this day, don’t and won’t believe me. People I’ve known for years will suddenly pity me.

    But most importantly, my parents will have to relive knowing. They’ve blocked it out, which is fine.

    Not to mention the fact that my abusers will finally know that I know and I remembered what happened.

    So, in terms of writing anonymously, how? How does one go about spreading their story anonymously in a way that can help people? I’d love to try it.

    On that note, have you visited http://pointswithpurpose.com/? It gave me some comfort a few years’ back and gave me a place to tell my story (the only time I’ve written about it online).

    I also know the shame, however, of telling your story when others have experienced worse. That site was an awakening to others’ stories.

  2. Oh Sez,

    Your comment is heart-breaking. A couple of things spring up for me:

    1) If and when you speak…speak up for you. Your story is no less valid than anyone else’s. You do not dishonour other people’s stories by telling yours. If you want to tell your story without your parents hearing it again that is perfectly alright.

    As for your concern for the perpetrators of your assault, I would tell you not to stress about hurting their feelings. If you are nervous of the consequences of speaking out because of the way that they could physically or emotionally hurt you I would ask you to tell your story where they will not see it. (I’m including a few places at the end of this comment)

    2) You have no control over anyone’s actions or reactions but your own. The way that some of those close to you reacted to your story, was painful and was very far from ideal. But part of being human is making mistakes (and sometimes those mistakes are on the large side).

    3) Speak in a place that you feel safe, Here are a couple of places online that allow you to share your story:
    In South Africa: rape.co.za has a section where you can anonymously share your story.

    Internationally you can post in one of these places:
    After silence
    The Pandora’s project has a forum for rape survivors.

    4) Remember you are not alone.

    Lots of love,
    Trisha

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